May 1, 2018 | By: Sarah Winkelmann

Takedown Gym Offers Boxing Class For Individuals With Parkinson’s Disease

Rock Steady Boxing has made its way to Brainerd and is designed specifically to help those with Parkinson’s disease.

“You can take medication, but you have to exercise,” said Lynda Erickson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about six years ago. “That is the only thing that will slow the disease or revert some of the symptoms; there is no cure and there is not a lot that will help in the long run except exercise.”

“It’s been wonderful, you gain a lot and get everything moving in your body,” said participant James Holman.

James was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about a year and a half ago, and his wife Bettie says Rock Steady Boxing has given him the strength to tackle the symptoms.

“His mental state has improved some, he’s got a better attitude, he feels like he can fight it and that is what he is doing, he’s fighting it every single day,” Bettie Holman said.

James is fighting along with 25 other boxers who are battling the disease together, one punch at a time.

“I was scared to death; I thought this wasn’t going to be easy because I have never stepped foot in an exercise gym before, so I am really not the person that should have been stepping forward, but I knew it was necessary,” Erickson said.

Erickson played a major role in bringing the international fitness program to the Brainerd Lakes that has been to the benefit of many locals.

“It’s like a godsend to us,” said Bettie Holman. “It’s like God put us in this place because we were struggling for him.”

The fitness program brings new strength for those with Parkinson’s on the inside and out.

“I am stronger now than I have ever been in my life; the Parkinson’s forces me to say I have to exercise, but why not do something fun with other people?” Erickson said.

“They were all doing so great, and it is fun to see their motivation and encouraging each other is really cool,” said Rock Steady Boxing instructor Haley Cunningham.

From instructors, participants and their families, it truly is a team effort.

“It’s a very safe outlet for them and just helping them fight the symptoms of Parkinson’s,” said instructor Jenny Holmes.

“It helps me a lot, but I’m exhausted by the time I get home,” Jim Holman said.

The first class for the program is free. They are offered twice a week at Takedown Gym in Brainerd.

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